For I have known them all already, known them all: Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, I have measured out my life with coffee spoons; I know the voices dying with a dying fall, beneath the music from a farther room. So how should I presume?
T. S. Eliot - The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (1920)
In a society where surveillance has become all pervading, we are surrounded by facial-recognition systems and algorithms designed to map our behavioural patterns. A closed loop of images made by-machines-for-machines has formed, directly intervening in our world and yet inaccessible to the human eye. What is the place of humanity in this new landscape of images and seeing machines? At a time when life is ubiquitously quantified, tracked, targeted and predicted, how should we presume?
The video works of Michael Dryden and David McCulloch see the artists placing their own bodies at the centre of this posthuman anxiety. In 6,000ft Beyond Humanity and Time, Dryden is shown struggling to swim through a seemingly endless mathematical formula, while in Still Life, McCulloch repeatedly runs against the landscape of a ploughed field. These exertive, laborious acts echo the tragic myths of Sisyphus and Prometheus where, in both cases, a human body is bound within an endlessly repeating system. With these works, the artists place their bodies in close relation to the physical landscape in order to establish a measure of resistance and rhythm. At a time when the concept of materiality is becoming increasingly fluid, Dryden and McCulloch retain a concern with the earthly and elemental.
Alongside their videos, the artists present two wall-based sculptural works that play with perspective and legibility, employing languages of reflection and reversal in different ways. One Small Moment and Misaligned assume the guise of monument and memorial through direct reference to the architecture of Husk gallery. Through doing so, Dryden and McCulloch consider the relationship between matter and memory within a context that is saturated by hyperreal images. This is seen especially in the imagery of One Small Moment, which is derived from a 3D scan - itself a product of machine seeing. McCulloch’s final work, Semantic Search, exists in a kind of online limbo. Appearing as a placeholder, the original print has become a representation of itself. McCulloch’s mode of display plays with the way in which much of contemporary art is now experienced via mediating images. Indeed, what you are looking for is elsewhere.